A NYC friend recently invited me to a dinner party. He warned it would be a magical night and, wow, was he right! I am always amazed at selfless people whose main goal in life is to make the world a better place. I was so inspired by this table of people that I decided to share their amazing stories and inspirations. Such an honor to be present amongst them!
Alex Garfield, Host – Alex is a friend, not to mention a miracle worker, in the lives of many. He is also a master connector. He connects people so they can do their magic to heal the world. Sometimes, he is driven to tears when he discusses his passion for making the world a better place for our kids. Thanks Alex for bringing this inspiring group of people together!
Alex’s Inspiration: “I used to apologize to my son for letting go of the ‘Peace, Love & Happiness’ and all we had in the 60’s. I told him he and his friends will have to fix it when I’m gone. As my son was growing up, I choose to connect my magical friends who’ve been involved in sharing their magic with kids, so I began to connect the magic. Lately, I tell my son and his friends that my friends and I are going to do all we can to make our world a better place before we’re gone.”
Cynthia English, Global Scribes – Youth Uniting Nations®
Global Scribes fosters global unity by connecting youth to build cultural understanding and worldwide community through the beauty and the power of the written word and creative expression. Create. Connect. Collaborate. & have FUN! For Youth, By Youth.
Cynthia’s Inspiration: “I founded Global Scribes to offer youth a virtual interactive platform to ‘DO’ all that my generation tells them they can & CAN’T do; to explore and push the boundaries of their ideas without fear of failure or criticism; to be recognized for their personal talents; to discover their passions; to become self-empowered, moving beyond the clutches of the bullies, the drug lords and those seeking out the most vulnerable; and to cultivate their capacity to see beyond generational stereotypes to understanding ‘we are all just people, with more similarities, than differences’.”
Jeanne Newman & Robert Wyatt, SHARE the Project, (affectionately still known as Project SHARE)
SHARE the Project is a community service group invested in sharing students’ time in acts geared to making a difference in the larger community, serving as a clearinghouse of social justice opportunities.
Their projects include monthly Midnight Runs (when students prepare food, clothing and personal cleaning supplies and caravan into NYC to feed, clothe and engage the homeless), the annual Tuesday before Thanksgiving Dinner for the Homeless (which serves 500+ homeless guests) is where Junior High and High School kids so enthusiastically get to serve and engage their homeless guests, Empty Bowls, AIDSWalkNY, and Crossing Borders when hundreds of predominately white students from Hastings High get to mingle with and grow close friendships with the predominately inner-city kids at schools in the Bronx.
Jeanne’s Inspiration: “I started SHARE because the need of the homeless and hungry poor was great; the crack pandemic was at its height in the late 80’s and early 90’s and homelessness was on a steep incline when Federal funding of social programs disappeared. And, perhaps the greatest reason, was the need to teach and educate my students to the reality of what was happening twelve miles south of the insular community of Hastings.”
Gary Kuchmeister, Council for Unity
The Council for Unity (CFU) was established in 1975 by the Bloods and the Crips gangs in order to stop violence and to create loving friendships instead.
Gary’s Inspiration: “When CFU was introduced about 10 years ago to our school, I immediately felt in my heart that this program could be a life changing experience for the many students struggling to connect to their inner self.”
Hal Eisenberg, Windows of Opportunity
Windows of Opportunity was created to shift the way we educate and empower youth. With over 14 impacting programs, mostly designed by youth for youth, WOO is creating a shift in what is possible for youth in the areas of leadership, empowerment, self-esteem, school performance, and career planning… a shift from disempowerment, differences, and indecision to possibility, acceptance, and opportunity. We have serviced 175,000 youth to date.
Hal’s Inspiration: “The only person who truly believed in me as a teen was my Aunt Barbara. I had this idea to start the company but didn’t think anyone would listen to me. As my biggest fan, she urged me to chase my dreams, but I never had the courage. On 9-11, my Aunt, who worked on Wall Street by day and a nurse for crack addicted babies at night and with youth on the weekends, was a first responder. I was on the phone with her when the 2nd plane hit. She said “I got to go,” and hung up the phone. She sprung into action and spent every day for 6 months straight pouring her heart and soul into helping at Ground Zero. Her life was cut short a year later from the chemicals she breathed in. It was that devastating loss to me that became my catalyst to finally start Windows.”
Keith Bowen & Greg Werts, Bully Busters 702
Bully Busters 702 has created ways for students to take action against bullying.
Keith’s Inspiration: “When I was in high school, I needed to get my grades up so I had a tutor named Matt. He helped me immensely and by working with me, he got my grades up. Sometime later, Matt committed suicide from being bullied. I started Bully Busters 5 years ago. While working in a community center, kids would tell me they were getting bullied. So I started a program to help them. “